Britton On The Rise

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Toby_Devin.JPGAs a freshman in college, Devin Britton took the nation by storm becoming the youngest NCAA Singles Champion in men's tennis history and just the third freshman ever to win the event.  One of the other two in that select company is seven-time grand slam singles champion John McEnroe.  

If you take a look at the top 100 on the ATP Tour, probably less than a handful played collegiate tennis.   John Isner, who achieved a career-high No. 9 in the world and played four years at Georgia, is a rare exception to the rule.  

 Britton's goal is to get to that same stage one day.   Since turning pro in the summer of 2009, he has played on the Futures and Challengers Circuit. This past year the results started to show the hard work and improvement that Britton has made in his game.

Playing in 24 tournaments in 2012, Britton achieved a career-high ranking of No. 129 in doubles and No. 404 in singles including 12 titles, 11 in doubles.  

"I feel good about the progress I have made this year. I feel like the hard work is definitely starting to pay off," Britton said.  "There is a lot of work left to be done though. I still have a lot of room for improvement. I look forward to keeping the numbers moving in the right direction in 2013."

To see how far Britton has come, you have to know where he started.  Unlike his professional counterparts in other team sports, Britton didn't get to walk in on a Super Bowl contending team and experience a high level of success right away.   He started his pro career ranked somewhere over a 1,000 in both singles and doubles.   That's a long way away from the current No. 1 player in the world, Novak Djokovic.  

Steadily improving since making his debut at the 2009 U.S. Open against the greatest player ever (Roger Federer), Britton began the 2012 season No. 741 in singles and No. 358 in doubles before his year-end rise.

"I think I have definitely matured a lot since I first hit the tour," he said.  "It is easy to let the losses get to you out here. I think it takes time to learn how to handle the ups and downs of the tour. I have definitely gotten stronger physically and mentally along the way as well."

Britton has visited Ole Miss many times since he left, including attending this past Saturday's "Egg Bowl" win over arch-rival Mississippi State.  His former coaches and teammates still keep up with him and are not surprised by his results.

"We always believed that it was just a matter of time before Devin was going to make a jump," said Rebel associate head coach Toby Hansson.  "We are really excited for him and look forward to following his continued progress in 2013."

Britton's most recent title came at the JMS Challenger in Champaign, Ill., two weeks ago, where he teamed up with fellow NCAA Champion Austin Krajicek (Texas A&M) for their fifth title of the year.

"Austin and I grew up playing together at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla.  I have known him forever, and we know each other's games very well," Britton said.  "We complement each other well on the doubles court. He is also left-handed, which is a bonus.

"He won the NCAA doubles title for Texas A&M in 2011, so the only downside is having to see his maroon attire all the time," Britton continued, laughing.  "I'm only kidding, but yes we will continue to play together next year. I am hoping we will get our rankings up enough to get into the French Open and Wimbledon next year."

There is limited time for Britton to reflect on this past season's accomplishments, because 2013 is right around the corner.

"The next step is to continue to improve.  I have to bust it in December to get ready for a big 2013," he said.

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